Essays on Modern Quebec Theater

By Joseph I. Donohoe Jr.; Jonathan M. Weiss | Go to book overview

The Problematic of Love and Identity in Zone

Joseph I. Donohoe Jr.

Seigneurs, vous plâit-il d'entendre un beau conte d'amour et de mort?1

So begins Bédier's remarkable literary reconstruction of the myth of Tristan and Iseut and, according to Denis de Rougemont in his classic L'Amour et l'occident, the Western World of readers and writers has for centuries accepted the invitation of the putative bard. As it turns out, the insidious attraction of the tale of fatal love, which exalts passion while concealing its inevitable link to death, is not without effect on modern critics of the theater as well. Consider the instance of some recent critics who do not hesitate to invoke Tristan and Iseut and their impossible love in their analysis of Dubé's Zone, in Théâtre québécois, most recently edited in 1988. "Ce thème de l'amour impossible entre Tarzan et Ciboulette," They tell us, has, by the end of Act I, become "le ressort secret de la pièce."2 In the following pages he will compare the two of them to the prototypical star-crossed lovers, Tristan and Iseut. The present study, while acknowledging the crucial importance to the play of the relationship between Tarzan and Ciboulette will attempt to show that it is not fatal love, but rather a kind of pre-political consciousness that shapes the landscape of post World War II Quebec as depicted in Zone. Along the way, it should become clear that whatever tragic resonance there is to the relationship between Tarzan and Ciboulette arises, not from the surrender of star-crossed lovers to passion, but rather from the contretemps which results when each of the lovers turns from love to duty or from duty to love at an inappropriate moment. Were one

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